MISS MOUSE. Top-off? Why, that is a curious name! Is it common in your family?
CAT. Oh, no! My second child has a white ring around his neck.
MISS MOUSE. Remarkable!
MISS MOUSE. What did you name him?
CAT. I gave him an unusual name. I will tell you what it is. First, though, run out to see if your dear mother is coming.
[Miss Mouse nods and runs out. The Cat creeps to the grease-pot and eats half the fat; then crosses to window. MISS MOUSE returns.]
MISS MOUSE. Mother is nowhere to be seen. Now what did you name your second child?
Miss MOUSE. Half-out? I never heard such
a name! ’T is not in the calendar,
CAT. What does that matter, if it pleases me? Now the last child is really a wonder. He is quite black and has little white claws, but not a single white hair on his body.
MISS MOUSE. What have you named him?
CAT. I’m afraid that will please you no better than the others, but still I will tell you. First, though, run to see if your dear mother is not coming.
[Miss Mouse nods and runs out. The Cat creeps to the pot and eats all the fat. She then crosses to the window.]
CAT. What one begins one must needs finish.
[MISS MOUSE returns.]
MISS MOUSE. Mother is nowhere to be seen. Now tell me what you named your youngest child.
MISS MOUSE. All-out? Why, that is more curious than the others. I have never seen it in print.
CAT (glaring at Miss Mouse). You never will!
MISS MOUSE (frightened). What do you mean?
CAT (preparing to spring). I mean to put you down with the fat!
MISS MOUSE. Help! help!
[Enter MOTHER MOUSE just as the Cat clutches her daughter and jumps out of the window with her. Mother Mouse crosses and looks into the empty grease-pot.]
MOTHER MOUSE (sighing sadly). ’T was ever thus! Show your grease-pot, and you’ll go with it!
THE GIRL WHO TROD ON THE LOAF
TIME: the day before Christmas.
PLACE: Inge’s Mother’s home.
* * * * *
* * * * *
[The MOTHER stands at the kitchen window, watching for Inge.]
MOTHER. Ah, here she comes at last!
(Short pause. Enter INGE.)
I have waited long for you, my child. Where have you been?
(Inge is silent.)
Have you been to the Elf Hill? Tell me.
INGE (hesitating). Just for a little while, mother.